ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and UN partner organizations, including UN WFP, SWEDO UNFPA, held an event near Erbil’s citadel on Monday as part of the international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
Every year since 2008, the United Nations Secretary General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, with the theme “Orange the World”, calls for global action against gender-based violence.
The UNiTE Campaign is in support of the annual international 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, which begins on Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
“Today, we really want to draw attention to the fact we need to stop violence against women and girls now,” Wendy Diedrich, Associate Protection Officer (Protection) UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, told Kurdistan 24.
“That’s our campaign this year,” she added. “And we also want to highlight the fact that according to various studies the UN has participated in, one in three women over the age of 15 will experience gender-based violence in their lifetime. Obviously, one person experiencing GBV is too much.”
“We also want to let people know that it has an impact on individuals as survivors, their families, communities, as a whole. It’s in all of our best interest to take action to end gender-based violence.”
Diedrich also said that gender-based violence increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. She attributed this increase to the fact that “everyone was under so much stress and so much change in society as a whole that we saw increased rates of GBV during that time.”
Diedrich said there are also different partnerships between UN agencies and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to combat violence against women.
“We are really happy that the Kurdish government passed an anti-domestic violence bill recently,” she said. “That’s a very good example of a concrete step that has been taken.”
“We also work with the Directorate of Preventing Violence Against Women, and then we have other key partnerships with key stakeholders throughout the civil society and government as well,” she added.
Firas Al-Khateeb, Spokesman and Communication Officer of the UNHCR Iraq in Erbil, told Kurdistan 24 that it is “one of many activities that the United Nations in Iraq is doing for the Sixteen Days of Campaign Against Gender-based violence.”
“We have a responsibility today to deliver this message. It’s not acceptable anymore to have abuse and violence against women,” he said. “It is unacceptable that in this day and age, we face abuse against women and girls.”
He added that the UNCHR and its partner agencies held the event in the citadel because it “is a melting pot of all cultures in the city and all civilizations in this part of the world. We want to deliver the message directly to the people.”
“We have to orange the world. Everything has to be orange, so the message stands out.”